Cap Crusher – 13km Trail Race – Race Recap

My 4th race of 2013, was also my first trail race of the year.

Amongst the lush greenery on the North Shore, just below Cleveland Dam is an intricate trail system that is not normally raced on.  Personally, I’ve only run through the area during the Seek the Peak race, from what I knew, it’s a well maintained, well groomed area, with tons of little trails all connecting.  When a new race was announced, an early race in the season, I knew I wanted to be involved.

It was small but a super challenging and fun race, and many of Vancouver’s well known runners were out for the inaugural race!  I don’t doubt that this will grow into a much larger race!


Spoiler alert :  I had a blast, and ran the 13 km race in about 1:26.  My personal photographer, Jay was out on the course, and got some amazing shot of the beautiful scenery that we’re please to run in, on a regular basis! 

Check out my full recap & Jay’s pictures…

Gary Robbins, a local elite ultra runner, that recently won the HURT in Hawaii, setting a new course record, joined with Geoff Langford to bring the Squamish50 to life last August.  You’ll remember that I ran the “somewhere around 21-23km course” and that I had a really rough start (damn fire safety road climbs), but that I enjoyed the race overall.

For 2013, the guys have not only changed Squamish50 courses to be a 50Mile, 50KM, & 23KM, with updated courses (NO loops on the FSR!!), they have also brought to us a brand new series of races – The Coast Mountain Trail Series.  For 2013 they have 3 events other than Squamish 50, and those 3 are Mar 23 Cap Crusher, Apr 13 Survival of the Fittest, & May 18 Buckin’ Hell.  Since I have conflicts on the April date (can you say GOAL MARATHON??), I decided I wanted to be involved in the inaugural Cap Crusher!

There was 2 course choices – an 8km, or a 13km.  Since, I have issues ever going with the easier option, I reg’d for the 13.

As you know, I love Saturday races, and this was no exception.  Jay and I left our house, and there was a mix of sun and clouds in the sky.  It was pretty cold, but I figured it would warm up soon.  Mingling around at the start, I got to see so many familiar faces, and meet some new people!  There was definitely a lot of social media love out there this am.  Running in the 13km race with me, was Chloe – my MYM50 friend, Adam Campbell – ultra runner extradoidinaire – star of new Arc’Teryx Silence video and world record holder for fastest marathon in a SUIT, Mike Murphy – MYM50 2012 winner, Josh Barringer – local ultra runner who also happens to be paleo, and twitter “friends” Darnelle and Jonathan.

Running the 8km was Karl, twitter friends James, Chris, and Rob.

The 8km started 15 mins after us, so we left them shivering at Cleveland Dam, and headed off running our race at 9am.


I was COLD.  For the most part, I knew I’d warm up, and could handle it, but my feet were a different story.  I didn’t notice them until I started running, but as soon as I started, I knew something was wrong.  It felt as thought I was running on 2 pieces of wood strapped to my shoes.  I couldn’t feel any of the roots or rocks below me, at all.

I knew the course was some sort of looping, and I knew it had stairs, and lots of ascents and descents, and that’s about all I knew.  I positioned myself right in the middle of the pack, and it was pretty much perfect placing.  Over the course of the race, I had 3 kills, and 2 people who killed me, both of which I later killed.  (Kills are people you pass during a race)

The first few kms were challenging and fun, and then we went out on a out and back along more of a path, heading out was gradual downhill, and heading back was gradual uphill.  I normally hate these sections of a race, but my feet were still a bit frozen, so the non-technical path was welcomed.  Coming along here it was also great to see the other runners, and trade good jobs along the way.  Oh how I love the trail running community.

I say a bit frozen, because they were starting to thaw out, and while thawing out, they HURT!  I guess only parts of the foot had feeling, and it felt as though my sock was bunched up, or my orthotic was pushed in half, it was such a weird sensation, that I’ve never had before.  But funny enough, Amber talked about it today in her race recap from a trail race in Kamloops, and it’s how my new friend Andy (you’ll hear more about him tomorrow), started talking on twitter – we both had frozen feet during Cap Crusher!

The race takes part in the Capilano area trails, and it is a gorgeous area – here are some photo’s that Jay took of the course :





Heading back up was a bit tough, you know me and gradual ascents, but I just keep moving, and ran the entire way.  Most of the uphills, other than the series of stairs, were quite runnable, and so I attempted to run as much of the race as I could.

Turning back into the trails after this out and back, I could finally feel my feet again!!

I really enjoyed the variety of trails during this race, and since there’s so many intersecting trails in the area, it was fun to look up and see Adam Campbell passing over a bridge that was probably 3 or 4 kms ahead of you in the course.  Also spotted on the course, was my trail friend, Tom Craik, who you’ll remember from Baker Lake.  Tom and his daughter were out marshall’ing and bringing cowbell to the runners.

I was also surprised not once but twice by Jay being in the woods!  I didn’t expect him to leave the start/finish area, so it was a nice treat to see him out there.  This was the first time I saw him:


As I was running by, he introduced me to the marshall at that spot, Rich, who is the author of “Trail Running in Vancouver“, which is an excellent resource book that I would recommend picking up if you plan on doing any trail running in Van!

Seeing him definitely gave me a boost, and before I knew it, I had dropped the man behind me who I’d been running with for the last little while. Up the stairs towards the finish I climbed, climbed, climbed.  Running through the start/finish area, I noticed Giselle, who happens to be a Burnaby Bushtit!  I was so focused on waving to her, that I almost missed the fact that Karl was actually finishing and WINNING the 8km in front of me!

Jay got this shot of Karl mid race :


Back out onto the course I went, again, no real idea where I was going.  Back down some of the stairs, passed Linda volunteering, and towards where Rob was perched photog’ing on a bridge.  Great spot – I can’t wait to see how Rob’s pics turn out!  Runners crossed the bridge, did a small-ish loop, and came back across the bridge.  I was totally alone at this point, and actually most of the race I was alone, but especially on the second loop.

Some more pics that Jay took of the course :




I found Jay & Rich again, and in my excitement to tell Jay that Karl won, I missed the smiling first memo, and ended up with this awful shot.  Ah well, at least there’s a good story behind it.  I think I’m saying “Guess what?!  Karl won!”


Hahah it makes me smile.  Continuing along, I knew there wasn’t much less left in the race.  There was 1 last killer little climb that had my legs screaming.  There was a down tree that we had to step over, and I remembered Gary saying “once you cross the fallen tree, it’s about a km to the finish”, but as I crossed the tree, my legs felt like jello from the climb, and they did not want to run.  Ooops.

A couple steps to get the legs moving again, and I was on my way towards the finish.  Of course the finish was up a little hill (Thanks Gary!), but John Crosby’s jokes had me smiling as I sprinted towards the finish.


After the race, we hung around and chatted with so many great people.  It appeared that everyone thought that the race was a winner, and that it was super challenging.  There was lots of draw prizes and I even won a $25 gift cert towards footwear at Kintec!  Love Kintec!

My official stats :

1:26 – 4/10 women, 18/30 overall

And now, for the nitty gritty race info/critique :

Overall, how would I rate this race?

Terrain/Course/Difficulty : A. The terrain is just gorgeous, and while it is not the most technical area of the North Shore, this is still a very challenging area.  Almost all of the inclines are runnable, and the ascents/descents are short and brutal, so you are constantly changing what you are doing, which I love.

Affordability and Value : A.  This race cost $35 plus taxes and fees.  For your money, you receive a bib, safety pins, 1 water station, and refreshments post race.  There was a ton of volunteers and marshalls on the course, and the flagging was extremely well done.  The thing about a course that Gary flags, is that there is an abundance of flagging, and the flagging is put where a runner will see it.  I would say the only things missing was some sort of chip timing, or at least timing that provided seconds as well as minutes.  And of course, everyone likes freebies at a race, like samples or whatnot, but again, this is the first time race, and for the price, it’s not expected.

Organization : A.  This race was run really super smooth.  It is actually shocking to think that this was the first time this course had been run, as everything went perfectly.  Definitely a testament to the organizers that everything just flowed.

What can I say?  I’m rarely disappointed when I spend a morning on the trails, and I definitely wasn’t on Saturday.  I’m really glad I decided to be part of the inaugural race, and I’m excited to see this series grow!  It was a beautiful day, a great little course, I would definitely recommend it, and I’m sure I’ll be at the start line next year.

I’m sad that I won’t be able to make the next CMTS race, but I think everyone who can make it, should check it out – Survival of the Fittest, April 13th in Squamish, BC!



Tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cap Crusher – 13km Trail Race – Race Recap

  1. Amber says:

    I had never had the cold/hurting feet happen to me before so I’m glad I’m not the only one. It was crazy how much they hurt as they thawed out but then once they weren’t cold anymore they were totally fine. Great job on your race! The trails around North Van are SO beautiful and so so different from the dry/barren Kamloops trails (we have a few nice forested routes but not many). If I didn’t also have to consider the cost of a hotel room to do races down there I’d be doing WAY more trail races in the area!!!

  2. Leigh says:

    Those are some seriously gorgeous shots! Blame your husband for me not paying attention to your race recap, but rather the pictures :) (don’t worry, I did read it and great job!)

Leave a Reply